Boys Basketball: Raiders Beat North Hunterdon, 74-69; Advance in State Tournament

​Tommy Drubulis hits a three pointer​ against North Hunterdon on Monday. Credits: Robert Fallo
​Nigel Nelson shoots a free throw. Credits: Robert Fallo
​Cooper Heisey goes for a lay-up​. Credits: Robert Fallo
Raider Nation. Credits: Robert Fallo
Pre-game. Credits: Robert Fallo

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Uptempo offense from both Scotch Plains-Fanwood and North Hunterdon led to a last-minute bonanza as the Raiders' boys basketball team pulled out the victory, 74-69, at home Monday night, advancing to the second round of the state tournament.

The victory for the third-seeded Raiders over the 14th-seeded Lions seemed unclear until a pivotal play by junior Cooper Heisey. After a three for North, SPFHS inbounded the ball, looking to answer back to the Lions one-point lead. After a deflected pass to junior Dwight Laylor at halfcourt, Heisey burst through a couple of defenders to snatch the ball and penetrated into the paint. After being met once again by a Lion defender, Heisey ducked around him and stretched out for a reverse layup to give the Raiders the lead and the crowd a reason to leap from their seats in screams.

“We were down one and we needed a bucket and the whole game (the coaches) were telling me to go strong to the hoop and that’s what I did,” Heisey said.

Sign Up for E-News

“It was an unbelievable finish… We really worked on (layups) the past couple days and I’m just so glad (Cooper) made it. He deserves it, he works his butt off and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” SPFHS head coach Steve Siracusa said.

Although the Raiders ultimately handed the Lions a defeat, the contest seemed as though Scotch Plains-Fanwood would lock up the game before the first half after a 20-6 lead in the first quarter. But, a fast-paced North offense that would not let up on the boards found ways to claw back into the game, eventually getting the Raider halftime lead down to 41-31.

The third quarter continued to show the fight of the Lions, as North would use their high-pressured defense to end the period only down two to the Raiders at 52-50. The Raiders offensive ability was inexperienced to the defensive style the Lions were showing, causing SPFHS to take a different approach.

“We’re not used to playing that type of defense an entire game with the running and trapping but we played as a team more, made sure we got the extra passes and not try to get outside ourselves. We had some times where we slacked on it but I’m glad we got it together at the end,” Siracusa said.

In the fourth, the contest was tight, featuring multiple back and forth ‘and-1’ plays as well as three pointers to keep both teams in check. Until Heisey’s basket late in the quarter, both teams were trading baskets on every possession.

“Teams like that, it's never over. Their going to keep getting up their shots and need just a couple ones to go down to get back into the game. They had some great players, some great shooters,” Siracusa said.

The main contributors in the game for the Raiders were Heisey (12 points) and fellow junior Lamont Cruse (17 points). Both players established SPFHS’ ability to drive into the lane instead of settling for shots behind the arc.

As for the next matchup, Siracusa and his team are ready for Bridgewater-Raritan.

“Looking forward to just competing and playing as hard as we possibly can on Wednesday against whatever team we play, we know it's not going to be easy, but if we play together as a team and try our best I like our odds,” the coach said.

The Raiders will be at home against Bridgewater-Raritan at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

New Ice Rink Gets Green Light from Westfield Town Council

May 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — A standing room-only crowd cheered and booed Tuesday night after the town council, with a 6-3 vote, passed a resolution granting Mayor Shelley Brindle the authority to negotiate a lease agreement with Arena Realty Partners for a temporary ice rink at Gumbert Park this winter.

Brindle made her case for testing out the public-private partnership.

“I don’t ...

Capitalist or Communist?

Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive oppressive regimes, many of those political activists genuinely thought communism would be better ...

The Facts About Vaping

May 13, 2018

Dear Editor:

The recent public discussion about vaping and “Juuling” that occurred at our high school really opened the eyes of a lot of parents who may have been clueless about what their kids are doing to themselves. There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information available online, on YouTube and social media about the so-called benefits of vaping vs. smoking ...

Softball: Peralta's Walk-Off Homer Gives Union Catholic a Dramatic 2-1 Win Over DePaul in State Tournament

May 24, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Gianna Peralta belted a walk-off homer over the center-field fence to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning to give third-seeded Union Catholic a 2-1 victory over DePaul in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public A Tournament on Wednesday in Scotch Plains. 

Peralta, a freshman, drove in both runs for the Vikings, ...